Goodwood Festival of Speed preview 2008

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As the organisers say, it’s much more than just a hillclimb. The theme this year is ‘Hawthorn to Hamilton – Britain’s love affair with World Motor Sport’. In these pages, we present Doug Nye’s spotter’s guide to the star cars and go behind the scenes to bring you the ‘making of’ the world’s greatest racing festival. See you on July 11-13.

Personal best

There are more fantastic cars appearing at the Festival of Speed than we could possibly include on these pages, so instead we got Doug Nye to choose his favourites

The Goodwood Festival of Speed was just a twinkle in Charles March’s eye when we met on Adrian Hamilton’s inaugural Tour of the Loire back in 1992. With Robert Brooks and Michael Pearson we sat in a chateau hotel bar one evening, and talked about “some kind of hillclimb in front of Goodwood House”.

The notion of running it as a classic and historic car event – an antidote to modern Formula 1 by providing unrivalled public accessibility to cars and drivers alike – was born then. Typical of the people involved, there was much laughter. As the evening drew on, its volume increased, while the sense the others were making – I’m virtually teetotal – diminished. Today, 16 jam-packed years later, Lord March’s Goodwood Festival of Speed is established as the world’s most extraordinary jamboree – a motoring Woodstock. And since great competition cars are still the core of this annual international happening, the Editor asked me to preview a few of my potential favourites this year.

1908 GP Benz and Mercedes

One hundred years of GP racing technology will be on display among all the other multiple anniversaries, jubilees, celebrations and show-boating which comprise this year’s Festival. First on the list chronologically will be a fine entry of 1908 premier-Formula cars of the kind which contested the third Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France at Dieppe that year. The race was a disaster for the home industry as France’s finest – represented at Goodwood by Panhard – were overshadowed by Germany’s best, Christian Lautenschlager winning for Mercedes, with the sister Benz GP cars of Victor Hemery and René Hanriot (below) second and third. Willy Pöge’s Mercedes finished fifth, Carl Jörns’s Opel sixth, and Fritz Erle’s Benz seventh. The only French finisher in the top seven was Victor Rigal’s Clement-Bayard, fourth. The ACF would not run another full-blown GP until 1912. The Daimler-Benz Museum and US collector George Wingard will be fielding both ground-shaking Mercedes and Benz chain-drive ’08 GP cars.

1953 Ferrari 375MM Berlinetta

Fifty years ago John Michael Hawthorn from Farnham, Surrey, was heading towards his life’s ambition. He would succeed in becoming the first British candidate to win the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship title, but the cost to his already battered psyche – quite apart from that to his ailing physique – would persuade him to retire after beating Stirling Moss to the crown by one solitary point in the deciding Moroccan Grand Prix, that October of 1958. He had survived the loss of his Ferrari team-mates Peter Collins and Luigi Musso in the German and French GPs respectively. Now he retired at the top. We all heaved sighs of relief that he, at least, had survived. But only three months later he was dead, killed in his Jaguar crash on the Guildford Bypass, in January 1959. Goodwood will celebrate his life, and his pioneering world title, not least with the freshly restored 1953 4½-litre Ferrari 375 Mille Miglia Berlinetta in which Hawthorn and Umberto Maglioli won that year’s Pescara 12 Hours. This remarkable, rumbustious coupé is virtually a Tipo 375 Grand Prix car fitted with one of Pinin Farina’s most handsome and aggressively styled early Berlinetta bodies. After the Le Mans 24 Hours race and the Reims 12 Hours, the original bluff potato-chipper nose treatment was replaced by a longer droop-snoot style, hoping to minimise lift on the high-speed swerves of Spa for the Belgian 24 Hours. This particular car, chassis ‘0320AM’ had been shared by Hawthorn/Farina at Le Mans, then by Ascari/Villoresi at Spa, before finishing sixth in the Carrera PanAmericana, having been taken over by Maglioli from Mario Ricci/Salviati. So ‘0320’ here is a Ferrari driven by three World Champion drivers. At FoS it should be driven by current owner Sir Paul Vestey – who has master-minded its restoration to original snub-nosed form – and yours truly. Expect no heroics there, then. But do enjoy this fabulous car.

1957 Maserati 250F ‘Lightweight’

Maserati 250Fs, you’ve seen them all before. But there is one particular 250F which in recent years has not been quite such a familiar public sight, and it is the most important of them all – chassis serial ‘2529’, the actual car in which Juan Manuel Fangio achieved his remarkable victory over the works Lancia-Ferrari V8s of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins in the 1957 German Grand Prix. One day much later when Stirling Moss and Fangio were touring around the Nürburgring sampling the delights of the latest Cosworth-modified Mercedes saloon car, Stirl summoned up the curiosity to ask his great hero and mentor if “in the old days” he had ever succeeded in taking the Antoniusbuche Bridge curve at the end of the long switchback Nürburgring straight flat-out? Fangio nodded thoughtfully and responded “una volta solo” – “one time only” – then held out his right hand, palm upmost and pumped his curled fingers in and out in a clenching movement. Stirl burst out laughing. He knew exactly what The Old Boy meant. What a frightened fighter pilot once described as “going sixpence and half a crown”. Any enthusiastic driver who’s hung it out a bit far, and got it back, should recall that feeling. In Fangio’s case that one time only was during the stupendous lap which brought him back into contact with the Lancia-Ferrari boys after his long mid-race delay in a bungled pitstop. At Goodwood you should see the car in which he did that great deed. It is absolutely one of the most iconic Grand Prix cars of all time.

1965 Rotorvic Lotus-Ariel 23

When it comes to the weird and wacky, Goodwood always sits up and listens. In this case, if the restored reality proves to be as deafening as described in 1965, we should all need ear plugs, not least enthusiastic owner Jeremy Deeley because his air-cooled V12-engined Rotorvic Lotus 23 is powered by six twin-cylinder two-stroke Ariel Arrow motorcycle engines linked as three pairs in tandem. The units are inclined outwards at 45 degrees to create a 90-degree V12 with spur-gear drive to a central output shaft driving via a Hewland five-speed gearbox. The period exhaust system was arranged to collect three cylinders each into four megaphone tail pipes, and this daring amateur project’s ex-Lotus designer R V Marchant put considerable effort into perfecting the arrangement in deference to the two-stroke system’s notorious sensitivity to exhaust tuning. Adequate engine cooling was another Rotorvic challenge, the Lotus 23 body being modified with enormous elephant-ear air intakes and a raised aluminium cowl above the standard body’s rear deck. When John Bolster of Autosport magazine saw the car run at Snetterton he was impressed by its mechanical silence, while describing its exhaust crackle as both ‘splendid’ and ‘fierce’. Apparently it was so difficult to tell if one of the 12 cylinders was ‘out’ that thermocouples had been arranged on the exhaust headers to illuminate warning lamps on the dash should any branch fall below operating temperature. JVB exhorted his readers to “listen for a new sound on the circuits!” Driver Bill Hill ran the car briefly in period, but a twin-cam Ford four-cylinder was always a better bet. For many years the Rotorvic engine slumbered as an exhibit in the Donington Collection. Now Jeremy Deeley has reunited power unit and car, and if restorer Peter Denty can get this extraordinary box of tricks bolted back together in time, Goodwood should ring to a distinctive new sound come FoS time.

1969 4WD Lotus-Ford Type 64

Technical complexity is a keynote of F1 and Indycar design, but seldom more so relative to the contemporary state of the art than in Colin Chapman’s Indianapolis 500 programme of 1969. Using sponsor Andy Granatelli’s STP funding to the full, Colin and his chief chassis designer Maurice Phillippe bowed to new Indy rules which effectively cast out the gas turbine engine and adopted instead the latest 2.8-litre turbocharged four-cam Ford V8 to power a Ferguson four-wheel-drive system in their latest Lotus Type 64 monocoque chassis, described as “the most complex Lotus ever built”. The usual three race cars and one spare were assembled, and in early Indy practice Mario Andretti hit 171.657mph in his. However, Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt were much slower, and the Austrian had an almighty spin. First qualifying was rained out; on the following Wednesday Andretti survived a huge accident when his car’s right-rear hub failed, threw the wheel and put him in the wall when set for a 174mph lap. ‘SuperWop’ emerged with facial burns, later qualified his old Hawk-Ford for the race, and won it. Crash investigation revealed poor heat treatment. There was insufficient time for parts to be remade and tested adequately, so the surviving Lotus-Ford 64s were withdrawn. The story of the subsequent dispute between ‘Chunky’ and ‘Groticelli’ over the complex cars’ whereabouts/ownership would make a wonderful caper movie, but they became the last of the history-changing Indy Lotus line. This example, freshly restored, is presented for your delectation by US collector George Barber.

1966 Lola-Ford T90 Red Ball Special

How can I pick just one car from the Lola fleet filling the Goodwood entry list to celebrate 50 years of the wonderful Eric Broadley-founded marque? I have a personal favourite in the shape of the 4.2-litre Ford quad-cam V8-engined T90 ‘Red Ball Special’ Indycar – celebrating Graham Hill’s winning John Mecom-entered contender in the 1966 ‘500’ and its sister car in which Jackie Stewart led that race for so far before retirement. But I also have fond memories of the distinctively arrow-head liveried Team Surtees T70-Chevrolets in which Il Grande John himself won the ’66 Can-Am Championship – what a fantastic double that was for the British racing industry in general, and for Lola Cars in particular. And we may see one of the original Lola-Aston Martin T70s and also Jim Busby in his famously ear-splitting Lola-Mazda T616 Le Mans 24 Hours car from 1984.

1955-58 Aston Martin DB3S ‘62 EMU’

Aston Martin’s ex-Lagonda stylist Frank Feeley produced some world-class designs for the Feltham-based company, initially – for my taste – with the first two DB3S styles and then, most laudably, with the fabulously proportioned DBR1/300. The DB3Ss with their 3-litre six-cylinder in-line engines, ‘Feeley’ good looks and nimble handling proved not only highly competitive Sports Car World Championship contenders but also engaging road cars. Company owner David Brown wanted to win Le Mans first, the world title second, and the DB3S took him close. This rarely seen example is chassis ‘DB3S/6’ better known by its famous ex-works registration ‘62 EMU’. When privateers Peter and Grahame Whitehead drove it to second at Le Mans in 1957 they were beaten only by Phil Hill/Olivier Gendebien in their works Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. ‘Emu’ passed into history as an illustrious individual. No apology for featuring it here, then…

1972 Ferrari 312B3 Spazzaneve

Weird and wacky 12-cylinders again. The Ferrari 312B3 Spazzaneve or ‘snow plough’ was the experimental test vehicle with which Mauro Forghieri gathered data on the kind of ultra-short wheelbase, hip-radiatored Formula 1 design then espoused by Derek Gardner and the Tyrrell team in their 005 design of 1972. Jacky Ickx and Arturo Merzario test-drove this wicked little device extensively at Monza and on the newly completed factory track at Fiorano through the winter of 1972-73. Forghieri was then kicked upstairs to concentrate on ‘advanced studies’ while Ing Sandro Colombo was promoted to design the rather less radical 312B3 works Ferraris which proved such a disaster during 1973. With Forghieri reinstated, the ’B3 family re-emerged in more effective form for 1974, Niki Lauda joined Clay Regazzoni in the team, and the rest is history.

1973 Brumos Porsche RSR

Another of the Goodwood Festival of Speed cars which has not often been seen in public for many years will be this outstanding Porsche RSR, running partly to celebrate 60 years of Porsche. It is the 1973 Sebring 12 Hours race-winning car, as co-driven then by that remarkably successful American Porsche pairing of Peter Gregg/Hurley Haywood. ‘Peter Perfect’ was the USA’s outstanding Porsche exponent for many years, while his friend and regular co-driver ‘Hardly Heard Of’ put the lie to his nickname by going on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours no fewer than three times, and the Daytona 24 Hours a staggering five times. Gregg was himself a multiple Trans-Am and IMSA Champion who also counted four Daytona 24 Hours race victories on his CV before dying a tragic death in 1980, aged only 40. Haywood subsequently headed-up his Brumos Porsche empire and raced for the Stuttgart marque with continuing international success.

2008 Gulf-Aston Martin DBR9 Coupe

Famous colours on a famous marque – the latest Gulf Oil-backed Aston Martin DBR9 is the 2008-spec GT1 class contender which will hopefully appear at Goodwood fresh from another stirring performance at Le Mans. The DBR9 is based upon the DB9 road car’s aluminium chassis structure and is powered by a full-race version of the production 6-litre 48-valve V12 engine. It features a carbon moulded body, six-speed sequential gearbox, race-tailored double-wishbone suspension, huge carbon brakes, forged magnesium OZ wheels – and more gizmology than a boy racer could dream of. With some 600bhp and 700 Newton metres – whatever they might be – of torque, here is the kind of projectile of which Gulf-JW’s own John Wyer and his Aston Army would surely have approved.

*****

And there will be so much more to see. Rally fans should relish what is going to be a heartfelt Colin McRae tribute upon the rally stage – his familiar warhorses also scheduled to be accompanied by the always hyper-competitive Scottish star’s Dakar Nissan Buggy pick-up truck. The irrepressible Red Bull Racing engineering director Adrian Newey’s latest investment is the ex-Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari 512M, so sensation seekers should perhaps get yourselves down to Molecomb Corner for that one, while from the US Can-Am scene comes Dennis Losher’s jaw-droppingly teeny-weeny AVS Shadow-Chevrolet Mark I ‘roller-skate’. The celebration of 50 years of the British Saloon Car Championship will feature the ex-Rickard Rydell TWR Volvo Estate from 1994, Pike’s Peak mountain-climb lunacies star in the shape of Rob Millen with his yellow Toyota Celica and David Donner running his 800hp centre-seat buggy. And then there are the Top Fuel dragsters, with Don Garlits sending his prototype rear-engined Swamp Rat XIV although he, sadly, cannot attend in person, and Tommy Ivo’s celebrated four-engined Showboat doing just that. See you at Gooders. Do say hello.

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